Oh, little Jack Frost get lost, get lost
Little Jack Frost get lost
You know you don’t do a thing but put a bite on my toes
Freeze up the ground and take the bloom from the rose
“What’cha singing for? Don’t you know singing’s forbidden?”
Singing was forbidden – and songs from Before, well those were a heresy all unto themselves. My mother remembered singing. She sang defiantly even as they cut her down. She taught me her songs, just as I will teach them to my young – provided I’m ever able to get out of this rat-hole they call Big City.
My mother told me she was brought here as a child of 12, not long after the carnage in the air eclipsed the sun. All that was left of us – left of humanity – gathered here, it seemed. The world outside the confines of the camp was deemed unsafe. Eventually, she said, the label ‘unsafe’ simply became the way to control desperate citizens.
They call the countryside outside Big City the Outer Zone. They still say it’s not safe, although the air has been clear for nearly ten years. It can’t be so bad – people who venture out there are allowed to return.
No one returns.
I’ve heard rumors that the Oligarch is going to start sending out the squads to round up deserters – for their own safety of course. That people leave and never come back makes me wonder what is out there. She showed me pictures – outlawed of course – but it’s not the same as seeing and breathing it in. Still, I treasure the pictures. I cannot imagine what she had to go through to keep them private. Here, in the bowels of the city, nothing is sacred. Nothing is pure and nothing, absolutely nothing, is your own.
Oh, little Jack Frost—
“Knock it off, Caroline. You’re going to get us all in trouble.”
“Leave her be. She can sing if she wants to.”
I looked up at the new voice. He was tall and lean. Covered in stubble with more than a few cuts and scars, his face wasn’t something I’d call handsome but there was something about the eyes. They twinkled. Down here, among the drones of Big City, nothing twinkled.
I smiled and the stranger hunkered down next to me.
I nodded. I liked the way my name sounded when he said it.
“I always knew I would meet you. I always knew I would love you. You and me, we’re going to have a baby one day and he’s going to lead these people out of here.”
If my eyebrows could have taken off from my head, they would have. Twinkly or not, this man was nuts.
“Oh yeah? And what’s that baby’s name going to be? Jack? Or maybe Frost?”
“No, his name is Samuel.”
Shivers ran down my spine that had nothing to do with the cold. My mother had been crazy the night the squad took her. But her crazy was something that terrified the Oligarch and maybe that’s why he’d authorized her murder. She’d told me to remember that name. She told me to remember Samuel.
I held out my hand. The man before me took it and planted a soft kiss on the palm.
“My name is Doyle. If you come with me now, I can promise you signing – as much as you want. That’s about all I can promise right now, but if you give me time, there will be more.”
“Will there be love?”
He pulled me to my feet. “There already is.”